Eva Jablonka

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Eva Jablonka
Born 1952
Poland
Institutions Tel Aviv University
Doctoral students Aviv Regev
Notable awards Landau prize

Eva Jablonka (Hebrew: חווה יבלונקה‎) (born 1952) is a Polish-Israeli theorist and geneticist, known especially for her interest in epigenetic inheritance. Born in 1952 in Poland, she emigrated to Israel in 1957. She is a professor at the Cohn Institute for the History of Philosophy of Science and Ideas at Tel Aviv University. In 1981 she was awarded the Landau Prize of Israel for outstanding Master of Science (M.Sc) work and in 1988, the Marcus prize for outstanding Ph.D work.[1] She is a proponent of academic freedom, recognising that on such matters, "academic and political issues cannot really be kept apart", although she is not a proponent of simplistic solutions, and shows a preference to describe her own position.[2]

Work on evolutionary themes[edit]

Jablonka publishes about evolutionary themes, especially epigenetics. Her emphasis on non-genetic forms of evolution has received interest from those attempting to expand the scope of evolutionist thinking into other spheres. An example of her work in this area is the book Animal Traditions (2000), co-authored with Eytan Avital, in which they extend models of human cultural transmission to the non-human animal world, to show that cultural evolution has played an important role in the evolution of other animals.[3] Jablonka has been described as being in the vanguard of an ongoing revolution within evolutionary biology, and was a keynote speaker at the Artificial Life XI conference in 2008.[4]

In 2005, Jablonka co-authored with Marion Lamb the book Evolution in Four Dimensions, which is considered by some to be in the vanguard of an ongoing revolution within evolutionary biology. Building on the approach of evolutionary developmental biology, and recent findings of molecular and behavioral biology, they argue the case for the transmission of not just genes per se, but heritable variations transmitted from generation to generation by whatever means. They suggest that such variation can occur at four levels. Firstly, at the established physical level of genetics. Secondly, at the epigenetic level involving variation in the “meaning” of given DNA strands, in which variations in DNA translation during developmental processes are subsequently transmitted during reproduction, which can then feed back into sequence modification of DNA itself. The third dimension is one of particular interest to Jablonka, comprising the transmission of behavioural traditions. There are for example documented cases of food preferences being passed on, by social learning, in several animal species, which remain stable from generation to generation while conditions permit. The fourth dimension is symbolic inheritance, which is unique to humans, and in which traditions are passed on “through our capacity for language, and culture, our representations of how to behave, communicated by speech and writing.”[5]

In their treatment of the higher levels, Jablonka and Lamb distinguish their approach from the banalities of evolutionary psychology, of "memes", and even from Chomskyian ideas of universal grammar. They argue that there are constant interactions between the levels - epigenetic, behavioural and even symbolic inheritance mechanisms also produce selection pressures on DNA-based inheritance and can, in some cases, even help direct DNA changes themselves - so "evolving evolution". To liven their text, they utilise thought experiments and dialogue with a sceptical enquirer, one IM-Ifcha Mistabra, Aramaic, they say, for "the opposite conjecture".[5]

In 2008, Jablonka and Lamb published the paper Soft inheritance: Challenging the Modern Synthesis which claimed there is evidence for Lamarckian epigenetic control systems causing evolutionary changes and the mechanisms underlying epigenetic inheritance can also lead to saltational changes that reorganize the epigenome.[6]

Reception[edit]

J. Bruce Walsh was skeptical of the claims in the book Epigenetic Inheritance and Evolution made by Jablonka regarding the importance of epigenetic inheritance in evolution.[7] R. J. Berry, however, wrote that the book made a strong case for the importance of epigenetic inheritance in evolution and recommended the book for evolutionary biologists.[8]

Jan Zima wrote a positive review for the book Evolution in Four Dimensions concluding "the book can be recommended both to professional scientists and all the students interested in biological ideas and the current ways of thinking about biology".[9] Stuart Newman also positively reviewed the book.[10]

Thomas Dickens and Qazi Rahman have written epigenetic mechanisms such as DNA methylation and histone modification are genetically inherited under the control of natural selection and do not challenge the modern evolutionary synthesis. Dickens and Rahman have taken issue with the claims of Jablonka and Marion Lamb on Lamarckian epigenetic processes.[11]

Publications[edit]

In English:

In Hebrew:

  • Eva Jablonka (1994) History of Heredity. Ministry of Defence Publishing House, Israel.
  • Eva Jablonka (1994–1997) Evolution: A Textbook in Evolutionary Biology for the Open University, Israel. Open University Press. 7 units. 700 pages.

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Eva Jablonka's Curriculum Vitae from Cohn Institute webpage". Cohn Institute for the History and Philosophy of Science and Ideas. Retrieved 2009-10-17. 
  2. ^ "Eva Jablonka's Position on Academic Freedom". Israel Academia Monitor. Retrieved 2009-10-17. 
  3. ^ Sterelny, K. (2007). Dawkins vs. Gould: Survival of the Fittest. Cambridge, U.K.: Icon Books. p. 164. ISBN 1-84046-780-0.  Also ISBN 978-1-84046-780-2
  4. ^ Seth Bullock, Jason Noble, Richard Watson, & Mark A. Bedau (Eds) (June 2008). Proceedings of the Eleventh International Conference on the Simulation and Synthesis of Living Systems. Cambridge, Massachusetts: The MIT Press. p. vii. ISBN 978-0-262-75017-2. 
  5. ^ a b Rose, Steven (23 July 2005). "Review of Jablonka & Lamb's Evolution in Four Dimensions". The Guardian. Retrieved 2009-10-17. 
  6. ^ Eva Jablonka, Marion J. Lamb. (2008). Soft Inheritance: Challenging the Modern Synthesis. Genetics and Molecular Biology. 31: 393.
  7. ^ J. Bruce Walsh. (1996). Epigenetic Inheritance and Evolution; The Lamarckian Dimension. by Eva Jablonka; Marion J. Lamb. Evolution , Vol. 50, No. 5. pp. 2115-2118.
  8. ^ R. J. Berry. (1996). Epigenetic Inheritance and Evolution. The Lamarckian Dimension. by E. Jablonka; M. J. Lamb. Journal of Biogeography, Vol. 23, No. 3. pp. 398-399.
  9. ^ Jan Zima. (2006). Evolution in Four Dimensions. Genetic, Epigenetic, Behavioral and Symbolic Variation in the History of Life by E. Jablonka; M. J. Lamb. Folia Geobotanica , Vol. 41, No. 3. pp. 348-349.
  10. ^ Stuart Newman. (2007). Evolution in Four Dimensions: Genetic, Epigenetic, Behavioral and Symbolic Variation in the History of Life by Eva Jablonka; Marion Lamb. Integrative and Comparative Biology , Vol. 47, No. 6, Integrative Biology of Pelagic Invertebrates. pp. 901-903.
  11. ^ Thomas Dickens, Qazi Rahman. (2012). The extended evolutionary synthesis and the role of soft inheritance in evolution. Proceedings of the Royal Society: B biological sciences, 279 (1740). pp. 2913-2921.

External links[edit]